So, you’ve decided it’s time to learn more about wine, but where to start? 25 years ago, I was in your shoes and asked myself that very question. The answer – just dive in and take any wine course that looks interesting. Of course, as a provider of Wine & Spirit Education Trust courses, I am a big proponent of this tried and true highly respected program.
WSET offers two unique starting points. For the absolute beginner WSET Level 1 offers a one-day study of the basic wine terms, varietals, and food and wine pairing possibilities. It also provides a systematic basis for tasting any wine and then being able to describe it taste profile, quality, and the things you like or don’t like about it.
WSET Level 2 is also a beginner course but goes into much more depth. You do not need to take Level 1 to enroll in Level 2. Level 2 looks in depth at the same subjects as Level 1 but goes further into the basic techniques of wine growing, wine making and how the major grape varietals of the world differ based on where they are planted. Along the way you will learn the differences between Bordeaux and Burgundy, Chianti vs Rioja and the similarities between places like the Napa Valley and Australia’s Barossa Valley.
If a certification program like WSET seems too intense than check out the offerings at local wine and adult education centers. San Francisco Wine School offers several fun courses for beginners in the Bay Area, while Cambridge, Massachusetts’ Commonwealth Wine School does the same for New England.
Wine has become an integral part of culture and with the continued expansion of places making wine and styles available understanding this historic beverage can be confusing. The most important thing is do not be intimidated. At the end of the day wine should be fun and add enjoyment to life. Taking any wine course, asking questions, and thinking about what you are tasting will be that start of a great adventure that will only enhance your life.